On April 4th, Saskatchewan goes to the polls. As a result, employers will be required to fulfill certain obligations under The Election Act, 1996.
Three Consecutive Hours to Vote
Anyone who is:
- a Canadian citizen,
- 18 years-of-age or older; and
- has lived in Saskatchewan for at least 6 months before the election was called
will be eligible to vote on April 4th. Eligible voters will have an opportunity to cast their ballot anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
All employees who are eligible voters are entitled to have three consecutive hours during which to vote while polls are open. Time off with pay must be provided to the extent necessary to allow three consecutive hours for voting. These three hours are to be granted at the convenience of the employer.
The Election Act, 1996 prohibits an employer from deducting pay or imposing any penalty for time off to vote as required by the Act. No employer may pay an employee less than the amount the employee would have earned on polling day if they had continued to work during the time allowed for voting. This is the case regardless of whether the employee is paid on an hourly, piece-work, salaried or any other basis.
Employer May Select Three Consecutive Work and Non-Work Hours
The law does not require employees to request time off to vote, so employers are encouraged to proactively address their employees’ right to vote on election day. An employer is not required to provide paid time off if an employee has three consecutive hours free from work while the polls are open. For example, an employee who completes work at 5:00 p.m. will have three consecutive hours for voting and is not entitled to time off. If, however, an employee works from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., that employee would be entitled to paid time off to vote. To ensure minimal disruption to the employee’s regular work day, while at the same time complying with the law, an employer in these circumstances could allow the employee to leave work half-an-hour early, at 5:00 p.m.
Employers should be mindful of the upcoming Provincial election and implement any necessary schedule changes in advance of April 4th.